Santa Monica College board votes to postpone tuition plan


The board voted 6-0 at an emergency meeting Friday to wait on implementing the plan. The trustees had approved the two-tier fee scale last month.

The board followed the recommendation of college President Chui Tsang, who submitted a letter to the board before the meeting urging that the plan be put on hold at least for summer classes to allow more time for community input.

"I think at a time like this, we feel that it's better for us to step back and take a pause, and engage not only those in the immediate community on campus, but our colleagues in education up and down the state, because they have other input to us as well," said Tsang after the meeting. He will now wait for a formal recommendation from the district planning and advisory council.

Security was tight on Friday at the emergency meeting held in the theater arts building, the largest venue on campus, to ensure as many people as possible could get in and address the board. A Tuesday night meeting ended with students being pepper-sprayed as they tried to get into a board meeting.

Students were angry about the plan that would offer high-demand core classes at a higher price. Classes would cost $200 per unit compared to the normal cost of $36 per unit.

"If the people don't take action now and speak up, then five, 10, 15, 20 years from now, all we're going to have is contract education for those who could afford it," said student Marjohnny Torres-Nativi.

"I think that Tuesday night was a reminder. That was a wakeup call to us as an institution that we needed to have a bigger conversation," said Margaret Quinones-Perez, chair of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees. "To say that it wasn't that, it wouldn't be totally accurate. We had to stop and look and see what was going on."

Due to the state's budget crisis and deep cuts to education, Santa Monica College has been forced to slash more than 1,000 classes since 2008, making it difficult for students to complete their degrees. Critics of the new plan argued it only creates a system that favors wealthy students.

"Cuts to classes, instructor layoffs, the cutting of healthcare benefits, and now, a plan to raise fees in a two-tiered program - this is the soil upon which student frustration grows," one student said at a rally.

The college argued that the plan, which would offer more classes, would help everyone. The California State University system has reportedly been considering the Santa Monica College plan.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott has asked that the plan be put on hold.

Santa Monica College has an enrollment of approximately 30,000 students.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.